Book Review: Change-Ringing on Handbells - Vol 1: Basic Techniques

Many thanks to Michael Tompsett for this review

I have just bought a copy of this new book, available from Amazon. One of the co-authors, Tina Stoecklin, is a past editor of the Ringing World and the other is her husband, Simon Gay. The book is a paperback and at £20 it isn't cheap, but the production quality is excellent, as good as any text book. The book has already been reviewed in the Ringing World and at this stage I haven't had time to read it properly but only to skim through it, so if I had any sense I would keep quiet. (Draw your own conclusions!). But Martin has asked for contributions to Tower Talk and I thought it might be worth mentioning that the book is written to be usable by readers who have no prior knowledge of method ringing. It therefore progresses through all the concepts, from plain hunt onward - plain courses, bobs and singles - what they do, why you need them, what a conductor does, what a composition is, what we mean by place bells, and so on. Obviously quite a lot of the content is specific to handbells and to ringing two bells instead of one, but a lot isn't and it is just a very useful text for those wishing to progress in method ringing and to understand all the jargon and concepts. My advice is therefore not to dismiss this book because of its title: it would be a very useful addition to the library of any ringer wanting to progress.

As far as change-ringing on handbells is concerned, I've been doing that from time to time at a pretty elementary level since I was a lad. I didn't expect the book to contain any magical insights, on the assumption that if there were any I would already have come across them, and I don't really think that it does. I am increasingly of the view that the main formula for success in handbell method-ringing is practice, practice, practice, assisted by homework and analysis. The Abel simulator program and its phone and tablet variants provide a superb tool for practising handbell ringing, just as they do for tower bells.